SCOPEinsight Workshop: Turning Farmers into Entrepreneurs

SCOPEinsight Workshop: Turning Farmers into Entrepreneurs

in News
Catur Utami Dewi
Catur Utami Dewi
Rice programme director

In 2016, for the first time ever VECO Indonesia conducted a series of assessments on 14 of its farmer organisation partners using assessment tools provided by SCOPEinsight. The results have to some extent turned farmers into entrepreneurs.

SCOPEinsight is a leading provider of assessment and analysis tools that measure the level of professionalism of farmer organisations. The SCOPE Basic tool was chosen to assess 11 farmer organisations while the other three farmer organisations were assessed using the SCOPE Pro. SCOPE Basic is used to assess emerging farmer organisations that are starting to establish their businesses and strive to build their capacity and strengthen their supply chain links. SCOPE Pro is used to assess more mature farmer organisations that have established their business and are now ready to access finance and larger markets.

Closing the series, the SCOPEinsight Workshop was held at Golden Tulip Hotel in Bali on September 22-23, 2016. Chairmen or appointed representatives of the 14 farmer organisations gathered at this event to discover their assessment results and discuss recommendations for business capacity development. At the same time, the farmer organisations were requested to give feedbacks on SCOPEinsight’s tools in terms of contents and benefits.

The 14 participants representing farmer organisations included APPOLI, P3LL, APOB and Simpatik for the rice sector, ASNIKOM, MPIG-AFB Ngada, PPKT and Benteng Alla for coffee, JANTAN, SIKAP, Amanah, Masagena and Cahaya Sehati for Cocoa, and TAKTIK for cinnamon. All of the organisations agreed that the tools had helped them see their strengths and weaknesses. And because the assessments were carried out by VECO Indonesia—an organisation that is not part of the farmer organisations but knows the conditions of each organisation very well—it had contributed to objective, accurate and profound business capacity analysis. Furthermore, benchmarking was possible because the tools applied the same criteria across all organisations, allowing comparison of results among them.

The farmers also provided useful recommendations for future improvements of the tools including, among others, to develop a glossary of jargons and to make the tools available in Bahasa Indonesia. They were keen to have the assessments conducted regularly, at least once a year, in order to follow up on the recommendations and to monitor their progress.

VECO Indonesia also invited several private sector partners to share with the farmers the required key points in developing and maintaining a professional business relationship based on inclusive business principles. Giving their perspectives on the subjects of operations, supply and sustainability were Mr. Arief S. Wiranatakusumah from PT Agripro Tridaya Nusantara (ATN), Mr. Yulhaka Adhitama from Tamajaya and Mr. Toby Garritt from Pod Chocolate. Mr. Wiranatakusumah from ATN also shared his notions on the topics of marketing, external risks and enablers, along with Mr. Andrew Ford from Mountain Top Coffee (MTC). Additionally, Mr. Dwi Prasetya from Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI), one of the nation’s well-respected financial service providers, revealed alternative credit schemes accessible to farmer organisations. These sessions proved very effective to help farmer organisations understand issues that are important to buyers and gain a better understanding about credit schemes and regulations.

The workshop ended with business-matching dialogues to link farmer organisations with businesses in the effort to promote and identify potential business development opportunities for commodities other than the farmer organisations’ main commodities of coffee, cocoa, cinnamon and rice.

It was clear that the workshop has successfully helped in boosting the confidence of private actors—at least the ones attending the workshop. At the time this article was written, MTC had signed cooperation agreements with ASNIKOM and MPIG-AFB and delivery of coffee beans had started. MTC had also conducted intensive discussions with PPKT and Benteng Alla. Furthermore, MTC and VECO Indonesia had agreed to work closely together, helping farmer organisations strengthen production capacity and marketing. ATN had also engaged in further talks with Simpatik for possibilities to purchase their rice, with Cahaya Sehati for vanilla, with Amanah for cocoa shells and vanilla, with PPKT for vanilla and pepper, and with APPOLI for mung beans. Last but not least, Mr. Garritt and the POD Chocolate team accompanied by VECO Indonesia’s Regional Director Mr. Dominique Vanderhaeghen recently visited JANTAN to explore opportunities to purchase cocoa beans from them.

Through upgraded business capacity, better access to markets and improved links with the private sector, farmer organisations have proven that, contrary to popular perceptions, they are not merely users of technologies developed by others for them but also have huge potentials to perform entrepreneurial functions that involve the transformation of knowledge into goods and services. Farmers are entrepreneurs!